How to Get Sticker Residue Off Plastic – 10 Easy Ways

It can be quite a challenge to remove sticker residue from plastic. The adhesive on the sticker causes the residue to form strong molecular bonds with the plastic. In this article, I’ll describe how to get the sticker residue off plastic by breaking the molecular bonds.

How to get sticker residue off plastic? 10 possible ways to get sticker residue off plastic are as follows:

  1. Rubbing Alcohol
  2. Vinegar
  3. Household Cleaner
  4. WD-40
  5. Hot Water
  6. Plastic Scraper
  7. Hairdryer
  8. Rubber Eraser
  9. Olive Oil or Canola Oil
  10. Peanut Butter

One of my favorites ways to remove sticker residue is to use rubbing alcohol. Soak the sticker residue with rubbing alcohol to loosen the residue, making it easy to wipe off. You can also use a hairdryer to soften the adhesive or a plastic scraper to scrape it off.

I will also discuss later in the article, the following three main categories of how to remove sticker residue:

  1. Method 1. Use Household Products
  2. Method 2. Use Vinegar and Soapy Water
  3. Method 3. Scrape, Press, and Rub

Read on to learn more about how to remove sticker residue from plastic including the various methods.

How to Get Sticker Residue Off Plastic? 10 Ways

Before attempting to remove sticker residue off plastic, remember that plastics can be easily scratched. Therefore, don’t use metal scrapers or any hard and very sharp objects to scrape off stickers and glue off any plastic surface.

It is better to start using your fingers first to remove glue residue off plastic. Try to remove as much residue as you can with your fingers and only stop when stubborn residue remains on the plastic surface. Next, try one of the following 10 methods below to clean off the stubborn residue.

1. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is one of the safest substances you can use to remove sticker residue off plastic. If you have vodka, you can use it as well. Put a few drops of alcohol to a clean rag or paper towel. Rub it on the residue until it is lifted off the plastic surface. If the residue is too stubborn, place the alcohol-laden rag on top of it. Let the rag stay there for a couple of minutes. Once the residue has softened, use the rag to remove it.

2. Vinegar

Soak a clean cloth or paper towel with white vinegar. Put the cloth on top of the sticky residue. Let the vinegar-soaked cloth sit there for a couple of minutes. When the residue has already softened, wipe it off with the rag or use a plastic scraper to remove it.

3. Household Cleaner

There are commercial cleaners like Goof Off and Goo Gone, which you can use to remove sticker residue from plastic surfaces. Be sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how they should be used so that you won’t damage the plastic surface.

4. WD-40

WD-40 is a potent cleaner. It can clean almost any kind of dirt and debris from any surface. You can also remove sticky residue with this cleaner. Sprinkle some of it over the residue and let it stand for a while. When you notice that the residue has already softened, wipe it off with a clean rag.

5. Hot Water

Hot water will work if you are removing sticker residue from a small plastic item. Pour hot water into a metal or glass bowl. Add a few drops of a good quality dishwashing liquid in the bowl and immerse the plastic item.

Wait a few seconds until the hot water softens the residue. Scrape the glue off the plastic with your fingers or a plastic knife.

how to remove sticker residue on plastic

6. Plastic Scraper

If it is not a stubborn residue, you can use a plastic scraper, a plastic knife, or an old credit card. The edges of these items are hard but not too sharp. Thus, they won’t cause scratches on the plastic if you use them to remove the sticky residue.

7. Hairdryer

Your hairdryer is a useful tool in removing glue residue from plastic. Turn on the hairdryer and aim it at the leftover glue. Pretty soon, the adhesive will loosen because of the hot air. Get a plastic scraper or a used credit card and remove the residue.

Just make sure your hairdryer isn’t too hot. And do not place the hairdryer too close or for too long on the plastic. Doing this could melt the plastic.

8. Rubber Eraser

Common rubber erasers are good at removing sticker residue. Use the eraser as if you are just erasing something that you have written on paper. Rub it on the residue. Its rubber surface will roll away the glue from the plastic surface.

9. Olive Oil or Canola Oil

Put a few drops of olive or canola oil to the glue residue. Wait a few minutes for the residue to soften. Use your fingers, a knife, a plastic scraper, or a clean rug to remove the residue. Wipe the excess oil, and you are done.

10. Peanut Butter

Yes, you can use peanut butter to remove sticker residue off plastic. Dab a small finger-sized amount of peanut butter on the residue. Let it stay for a few minutes. Check if the residue is already soft. If it is, get a clean rag and wipe off the sticky residue together with the peanut butter.

Those are the 10 ways for how to remove sticker residue from plastic. Next, let’s look at the 3 main categories of removing sticker residue.

Three Specific Methods of Removing Sticker Residue off Plastic

Below are three specific methods, if you want a more detailed explanation of how to get sticker residue off of plastic. We will start with the method that uses common household products.

Method 1. Use Household Products

Tip 1: Prepare the Tools That You Will Use

You will need a pair of gloves and some old newspapers. The gloves will protect your hands from cleaning substances that might harm your skin. Old newspapers are for covering your working area or the surfaces where you will be doing the cleaning.

Tip 2: Choose the Correct Cleaning Product

Use the right cleaning product for the type of surface that you will clean. Since you are removing glue residue from plastic, you need something that won’t damage the plastic surface. If the plastic surface is porous, don’t use cleaning products that contain oil.

Tip 3: Use Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol has many attractive properties that make it the go-to cleaning substance at home. It can neutralize sticky substances, dries fast, and won’t leave any residue after using it. Surely, you have a bottle of rubbing alcohol in your home. But if you don’t, you can use vodka instead. Don’t use other types of alcoholic spirits because they leave their own residue behind.

  • Get a clean towel, cloth or rag and moisten it with alcohol.
  • Rub the sticker residue on the plastic surface vigorously.
  • Do this for about 15 seconds.
  • Examine the spot if there is still some residue left.
  • If there are, continue rubbing it until all residue is gone.

Tip 4: Use Cooking Oil – Only on Nonporous Plastic

Soaking the residue with cooking oil will help soften it. Cooking oil is suitable for delicate plastic surfaces because it does not contain any harsh chemicals.

  • Get a piece of paper towel and give it a few drops of oil.
  • Cover the sticky residue with the oiled paper towel.
  • Let the oiled paper towel sit there for a couple of minutes to soak the residue in the oil.
  • Remove the paper towel.
  • Rub or scrape the residue off the plastic surface.

Tip 5: Use Baking Soda and Cooking Oil

Combining baking soda and cooking oil will give you a more powerful cleaning agent. 

  • Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with two tablespoons of cooking oil into a paste-like consistency.
  • Cover the residue with this paste. 
  • Let the baking soda and oil mixture do its work for several minutes. The mixture will break the bond between the residue and the plastic surface. 
  • Remove the residue and wipe away the excess mixture.

Tip 6: Use Vinegar

Vinegar is also an effective all-around cleaner. To get the best cleaning solution, mix equal parts of water and vinegar.

  • Get a clean cloth, towel, or rag and moisten it with the vinegar/water solution.
  • Rub the sticky residue with this cloth vigorously for about 15 seconds.
  • Check the surface if it is already clean.
  • Continue rubbing until all residue is removed.

Tip 7: Use Peanut Butter

If your plastic item is sensitive to acid, you can use peanut butter instead of vinegar. Peanut butter is an underrated cleaning agent.

  • Spread peanut butter to the sticker residue.
  • Wait for 15 minutes for peanut butter to do its work.
  • Get a rag and wipe off the peanut butter.
  • Most of the sticky residue will come off with the peanut butter.

Tip 8: Use Commercial Products Like Goo Gone

Buy commercial products that are specifically designed for removing sticky residue. They are effective, but most of them will leave an oily residue on plastic surfaces. You can just wipe them off. Follow the package‘s step-by-step instructions on how the cleaner should be used.

Tip 9: Use Mayonnaise

You would be surprised that mayonnaise can be used to remove sticker residue. This food item contains oil and vinegar. Therefore, you can use it for cleaning. But don’t use it on porous surfaces.

  • Spread it on the residue.
  • Rub it on the surface until the residue is removed.

Method 2. Use Vinegar and Soapy Water

how to get rid of sticker residue from plastic

The combination of vinegar and soapy water will remove stubborn residue from plastic surfaces. Here is how you can do this.

Step 1: Mix Warm Water with Vinegar

Get a suitable mixing bowl that can accommodate the plastic item with the sticky residue. Pour a few cups of warm water to the bowl. Put a few drops of liquid detergent in the bowl and mix it.

Step 2: Soak the Plastic Item

Submerge the plastic item with the sticker residue on the bowl/mixture for about half an hour. The stubborn residue should loosen from the plastic.

Step 3: Rub the Spot with Soapy Water

Soak a clean rag to the soapy water and rub it on the plastic with the stubborn residue. Continue rubbing until you completely remove the residue.

Step 4: Rub the Spot with Vinegar

If there is a residue that won’t come off, wet a clean rag with vinegar and rub it on the stubborn residue. Continue rubbing the spot until the persistent residue comes off.

Method 3. Scrape, Press, and Rub

It is also possible to manually remove sticker residue. You need to scrape, press, and rub the affected spot continuously until the dirt comes off. Here’s how you can do this.

Tip 1: Use a Plastic Scraper, Plastic Knife, or Old Credit Card

  • Plastic tools are safe to use in plastic surfaces because they are unlikely to cause scratches unless you put too much pressure or misalign the edge or blade against the surface.
  • Scrape the residue away from you to avoid accidents.

Tip 2: Press the Residue with Your Fingers

  • Wrap your index and middle finger separately with masking tape. The sticky side of the masking tape should be facing out. Make sure that your fingers are wrapped tightly.
  • Press your fingers against the sticky residue and pull away. Some of the residue will stick to the tape. Rotate the masking tape if that side is already filled with residue.
  • Continue doing this until all the residue is removed from the plastic surface.

Tip 3: Roll the Residue with Your Fingers

  • If the residue is still fresh, run your finger on the whole residue. Apply equal pressure as you are doing so. The sticky residue will roll into small balls. Pluck these balls off the surface as you go along.
  • Use a wet wipe to rub off the remaining residue. Continue rubbing until there is no more stickiness in that spot. Repeat this procedure until there is no more residue left.

Conclusion – How to Remove Sticker Residue from Plastic

To recap, how to remove sticker residue from plastic? 10 possible ways to clean sticker residue are as follows:

  1. Rubbing Alcohol
  2. Vinegar
  3. Household Cleaner
  4. WD-40
  5. Hot Water
  6. Plastic Scraper
  7. Hairdryer
  8. Rubber Eraser
  9. Olive Oil or Canola Oil
  10. Peanut Butter

My favorite method is using rubbing alcohol. Just add a small amount of the alcohol to the residue and allow it to soak.

You can also get rid of the sticker residue if you use a hairdryer. Turn it on and aim it at the residue. Allow the hot air coming from the hairdryer to soften the adhesive. After several seconds, the residue will lose its grip on the plastic.

Get a plastic scraper and scrape the residue. You can also use any old credit card. The sticky glue will no longer offer any resistance. To clean the affected surface, get a cotton swab.

These methods are all effective ways of how to get sticker residue off plastic.